How Do Women Experience Navigating Support After Domestic Abuse?

Prof Doc Thesis

Eassom, E. 2018. How Do Women Experience Navigating Support After Domestic Abuse? Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsEassom, E.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Research has highlighted the multiple barriers women who have experienced domestic violence and abuse (DVA) face in ‘disclosing’ abuse. However, ‘disclosure’ is but the first step in women accessing ‘support’ for a wide range of needs; less is known about women’s experiences once they have accessed ‘support’. Existing research has frequently identified what is termed ‘secondary victimisation’ within services, however this has typically been studied within separate spheres - medical, legal and so on – preventing a more integrated understanding of women’s experiences. This research applies a feminist perspective to explore how women experience accessing ‘support’ from formal and informal systems after DVA, and considers what constitutes support, for them.

The research involved consultation and collaboration with service users and staff at a specialist DVA organisation. Nine women who were engaged with the organisation took part in semi-structured interviews. The interviews were analysed using thematic analysis within a critical realist contextualist epistemology.

Three main themes were identified: theme one, “It’s the Seeing It and Acknowledging It”: Who, Where and How?; theme two, The Duality of Help, and theme three, “We’ve Had Enough”. Theme one considers how constructing experiences as abuse intersected with women’s experiences of ‘help’. The second theme explores the paradoxes associated with navigating ‘support systems’ and their possible harms. The final theme explores how women describe being impacted by and responding to their experiences, both of abuse and within ‘support systems’.

Results of the analysis are discussed in relation to empirical and theoretical literature. In discussing findings, the use of power within services is explored and the importance of relational aspects of care. Implications are considered at a community, service and research level.

KeywordsDomestic violence; Support; Services; Help-Secondary victimisation; Secondary victimisation
PublisherUniversity of East London
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
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Publication dates
PrintMay 2018
Publication process dates
Deposited18 Nov 2019
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License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
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